Oslo: Fleabag’s frosty Andrew ‘Hot Priest’ Scott political drama hits SoHo

Oslo (R16, 113 minutes) Directed by Bartlett Sher *** ½

Two years of multinational negotiations have yielded nothing.

Trapped in a process unable to build confidence, the Israeli government and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) officials fail to find common ground to end their growing conflict. more deadly.

But while much of the rest of the world has apparently washed their hands of the couple’s inability to end the cycle of violence and enmity, two Norwegians believe they can help find a solution. Having witnessed first-hand events in the Middle East while on assignments there, married diplomats Mona Juul (Ruth Wilson) and Terje Rød-Larsen (Andrew Scott) believe the way forward is to facilitate discussions. intimate between people on both sides.

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However, with the Israelis having declared against the law that a member of their government meets the PLO, the first meetings must be held in secret and using other members of the “small country intelligentsia”. Yair Hirschfeld (Dov Glickman) is an economics professor who sees many benefits in a negotiated peace and, after an initial London-based conversation with the PLO’s Ahmed Queri (Slim Daw), Juul and Rød-Larsen decide to move up. the bar, inviting them both, and others, to an informal summit at a secluded country house near Oslo.

However, some in the couple’s government believe their optimism is reckless and their goal is simply unachievable. “In recent years the Berlin War has fallen, Russia has broken up, what better time to attempt the impossible? Rød-Larsen retorts.

Andrew Scott plays Terje Rød-Larsen in Oslo.


Andrew Scott plays Terje Rød-Larsen in Oslo.

While the prospect of nearly two hours of “drama” focused on real conflict resolution and political negotiations from almost 30 years ago may frighten many would-be viewers, Oslo manages to skillfully squeeze a lot of irresistible tension out of the premise.

Of course, it helps that screenwriter JT Rogers’ story was already a Tony Award winning play. Like Peter Morgan’s Frost / Nixon, it does a great job of recreating the most tense, uplifting moments of the stage version, while also trying to create something more cinematic.

Director Bartlett Sher is best known for capturing Met Opera productions and there are certainly some eye-catching, well-choreographed scenes, while the production design and costumes are top notch.

Ruth Wilson is Oslo's Mona Juul.


Ruth Wilson is Oslo’s Mona Juul.

However, not everything freezes, some of the flashbacks to Juul’s time on the streets of Gaza seem a bit manipulative and forced, while the shared names of important women in two of the protagonists’ main lives are eerily reminiscent of Batman vs. Superman.

Scott (Fleabag’s Hot Priest) and Wilson (The case, Its dark materials) are solid, though unspectacular like leads, like Daw and that of Munich Igal Nagor (who acts as legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry) providing most of the verbal fireworks.

Perhaps the real scene stealer is Geraldine Alexander’s Toril, the Norwegian household cook who manages to defuse growing tensions with her addicting waffles (having previously threatened disaster by suggesting roast pork on the menu).

Although it is not always really captivating, Oslo achieves the impressive feat of blocking a photocopier for a moment of almost unbearable intensity.

Oslo debuts on SoHo at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 11. It will be available to stream on Neon starting July 17.